FORT MYERS, Fla. – During Monday’s NCAA Selection Show, the Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament champion FGCU men’s soccer team discovered it will be traveling back to Orlando, Fla. for a contest with UCF in the opening round of the NCAA Championship on Thursday at the UCF Soccer Complex, beginning at 7 p.m.
Finding the net in the opening minutes of each half, the Eagles handed then-unbeaten UCF, ranked No. 8 at the time, its first loss of the year in a 2-1 victory at the UCF Soccer Complex on Sept. 24. In a level game, junior midfielder Andres Navas (Miami, Fla./Sunset Senior HS/Florida International) provided the decisive goal in the 49th minute on an assist from senior Francesco DiStefano (Kissimmee, Fla./Osceola HS).
On an outstanding cross by DiStefano, a header goal in the 89th minute of play by senior forward Scott Harrison (Cocoa, Fla./Merritt Island HS) in the A-Sun Tournament final gave top-seeded FGCU a 1-0 victory over tournament host and sixth-seeded ETSU last Sunday in Johnson City, Tenn.
FGCU’s win marked the first time since 2004 that the No. 1 seed has won the A-Sun Men’s Soccer Tournament. Postseason eligible for the first time this season, FGCU (12-5-2) entered the A-Sun Tournament as the No. 1 seed after winning the regular season and went on to a pair of one-goal victories against fourth-seeded Mercer (2-1) and sixth-seeded ETSU (1-0) to earn the league’s automatic NCAA berth in just the fifth year of the program.
Under the direction of A-Sun Coach of the Year Bob Butehorn, the Eagles enter the NCAA Championship holding a 12-5-2 (7-1 A-Sun) overall record, having won six of their last seven games. The Eagles head into the tournament at No. 41 in the latest RPI rankings.
On the offensive end of the pitch, the Eagles are led by senior A-Sun All-Conference first teamer Cristian Raudales (Bradenton, Fla./Manatee HS) and A-Sun Freshman of the Year Xavier Silva (Boca Raton, Fla./North Broward Prep) who each hold 15 points. In the A-Sun semifinal contest with Mercer, the point-leading duo connected for the Eagles opening goal on a cross by Silva that was headed home by Raudales to give the Green and Blue a 1-0 lead. Silva went on to score the eventual game-winner against the Bears on a header of his own, moving his point total to three for the game. The program’s all-time leader in points (43) and goals (19), Raudales has also tied the single-season record for goals this year with seven.
Senior A-Sun second team selection Josey Portillo (Metairie, La./Grace King HS) has netted three goals this season while tying a program single-season record with seven assists for a total of 13 points. Additionally, juniors Andres Navas (Miami, Fla./Sunset Senior HS/FIU) and William Morse (Sugar Land, Texas/Clements HS) have also reached the double-digit point plateau this season. Each holding 10 points, Navas has recorded four goals, including two game-winners, and a pair of assists, while Morse has a pair of goals and six assists, which ranks second on the team.
One of 10 national finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award and an A-Sun first team selection, redshirt senior goalkeeper Adam Glick (Leola, Pa./Conestoga Valley HS) has played 1123:19 minutes in net this season for the Eagles, totaling 44 saves while allowing 14 goals. His 1.12 goals against average currently ranks third in the A-Sun, while the .759 save percentage is also good for fourth in the league. Glick picked up his 32nd career victory with the 1-0 shutout over USC Upstate (Oct. 14) and, with three shutouts this season, the netminder sits third in A-Sun history with 19 and sits four away from the record set by Jeff Cassar of FIU (1992-95).
Named the Most Valuable Player for the A-Sun Championship, freshman keeper Nathan Ingham (Ontario, Canada/Keswick HS) has made the last seven starts in goal for the Eagles, compiling a 6-1 record while allowing eight goals for a 1.14 goals against average and sending away 27 shots on goal. With five total saves in the A-Sun tournament final, Ingham made a trio of saves over the final 10 minutes, keeping the game scoreless before Harrison’s golden goal down the stretch.
The men’s squad became the second FGCU team in as many weeks to reach the NCAA tournament since becoming postseason eligible back on August 12. Just a week ago, the women’s program won the A-Sun Tournament title as the No. 1 seed, marking just the fourth time in A-Sun history both a men’s and women’s team from the same school have won the postseason tournament. FGCU and UCF are two of just 14 schools that have sent both a men’s and women’s soccer program into the NCAA Championship this season.
Ranked as high as No. 6 during the regular season after starting 6-0-1, UCF enters the NCAA Championship with an 11-5-3 overall. Last week, No. 22 UCF advanced to the Conference USA Championship semifinals where it fell to No. 16 UAB, 1-0, in Tulsa, Okla. at Tulsa’s Hurricane Stadium. The Knights enter the weekend slotted No. 37 in the latest release of the RPI rankings.
Leading UCF offensively, McKauly Tulloch has 34 points this season on 15 goals, which ranks ninth in the NCAA, and four assists. Tulloch netted a hat trick in in the Knights’ 4-3 quarterfinal victory over Memphis. Also holding 23 points on nine goals and five assists, Nik Robson sits second on the team. Appearing in seven matches this season, Sebastian Evers has been spending time in net recently for the Knights. Having sent away 29 shots while allowing 10 goals, Evers holds a 2-2-1 record including one shutout while holding a 1.34 goals against average and a .744 save percentage.
The winner of the first round matchup will face seventh-seeded USF on Sunday, Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. in Tampa, Fla. The Bulls hold an RPI ranking of No. 9 as the NCAA Championship gets underway.
Tickets for the contest against the Knights are available at www.UCFAthletics.com and all Ticketmaster outlets. Live stats, free live video, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUMensSoccer and @FGCUEagles), results and recaps will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.